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Social Mobility & IntersectionalityToolkit

A toolkit designed to break down the factors that intersect Social Mobility, to enable Business Leaders, Managers and Change Makers to improve Social Mobility within the workplace.


Social Mobility & Intersectionality

How to use this toolkit?


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Who is this toolkit for?

This toolkit is for all Employers, Business Leaders, Managers and Change Makers, regardless of seniority, level or size.We understand that not every organisation will have the same resources or capacity to implement all of the recommendations outlined in this guide. However, even the smallest businesses and those without large HR departments can take steps to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. By taking even small steps, you can start to build a socially mobile environment for all colleagues.This toolkit is in support of our 'Diversity & Inclusion Change Maker Program'.Visit our website for more information.


How does Social Mobility affect us? We all want to live in a place where people can succeed based on their efforts, not just their background, their parents' occupation or where they grew up. Talent spreads far and wide across the nation, but unfortunately opportunity does not.The odds can be stacked against those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and can favor those from privileged backgrounds, irrespective of talent and potential. Sadly this can often mean, where you start off in life determines where you end up. Improving Social Mobility...Social mobility is about breaking down these barriers and giving everyone a fair chance because everyone should be given the opportunity to succeed in life, however they see fit. It's about ensuring that people can reach their full potential, regardless of their background. This doesn't mean lowering standards or giving out handouts. It's about recognising that everyone has something valuable to offer and giving them the chance to prove it. It's about investing in our education system, our communities and our businesses to create a society that truly embraces talent. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) can play a big role in this,- having a presence in areas with limited social mobility, they understand the needs of their local communities, to help break down barriers and connect talented individuals with opportunities.

Social Mobility

What is Social Mobility and how does it affect us?

Intersecting Factors

Looking at how factors such as socio-economic background and identies influence Social Mobility.

Case Study

Key definitions to ensure your thorough understanding of this toolkit.


Having a shared vision and idea for your workplace will help bring about change.


Inclusive workplace practices can create a wider talent pool.


Putting your understanding into practice with a case study exercise.


Levelling the playing fied for career progression.


Building an inclusive workplace culture will promote Social Mobility.

What is in this toolkit?

Social Mobility

Social mobility refers to the movement of individuals or groups within a social hierarchy. It encompasses both upward and downward mobility, indicating changes in social status, economic opportunities, and access to resources. Social mobility can occur across generations (intergenerational mobility) or within an individual's lifetime (intragenerational mobility).Social mobility is usually measured by parental occupation, educational attainment, income/wealth and social class.

Source: GOV UK, Policy Paper: Drivers of Social Mobility 2023

Percentages of adults in families with dependent children in different levels of occupation in the UK, from 2014 to 2021.


Intersectionality is the term used to recognise that individuals hold multiple social identities (such as race, gender, sexuality, disability and socioeconomic status) that intersect and interact, shaping their experiences of privilege and oppression. Individuals experience multiple forms of oppression and discrimination based on their intersecting identities. Socio-economic background plays a significant role in determining an individual's social mobility. It refers to the social and economic status of an individual or their family. Research has consistently shown that individuals from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds often face greater barriers to upward social mobility compared to those from privileged backgrounds. Other factors such as personal characteristics and identities can have a large influence on Social Mobility.

For instance, a person's experience may be different if they are both a woman and a person of colour, as opposed to someone who only faces challenges related to one aspect of their identity. When considering social mobility, it is crucial to understand how these intersecting identities can compound and intersect with socio-economic factors to shape an individual's opportunities and barriers.

Intersecting Factors on Social Mobility

1. IdentityStructural Inequalities: Certain identities can be associated with systemic inequalities that can affect social mobility.Perceptions & Stereotypes: Identity-based stereotypes and biases can shape how individuals are perceived in society. These perceptions may influence hiring decisions, promotions and overall career trajectories, impacting social mobility.2. Socio-Economic Background (SEB)Low SEB: Limited opportunities, resources and connections. can hinder social mobility.High SEB: Exposure and access to opportunities from a young age, optimising their social mobility, from the offset.

Source: British Politics & Policy at LSE

Overall higher education and earning pathways in the UK.

Types of Intersections: Socio-Economic Background

Employment Opportunities

Discrimination, bias, and the lack of professional networks can make it challenging for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure well-paying and upwardly mobile jobs.

Geographic Location

The region or country in which a person lives can affect social mobility. Disparities in economic opportunities, education systems, and healthcare resources can be more pronounced in certain geographic areas.


Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds often have limited opportunity within education, which can hinder potential for higher education and future career prospects. Unequal access to educational resources, can perpetuate social inequalities.

Income Inequality

Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, often earn lower wages and have limited financial resources as well as stability, further perpetuating social inequality.

Social Networking & Capital

Networks, relationships, and social connections can impact social mobility. Access to influential networks and mentors can provide individuals with opportunities for advancement.

Types of Intersections: Identities

Race and Ethnicity

Individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups often face additional barriers to social mobility due to systemic racism and discrimination. The intersection of socio-economic background and race can compound these barriers, making it even more challenging for individuals to overcome inequalities.

Sexual Orientation

LGBTQ+ individuals may encounter challenges, including workplace discrimination, limited legal protections and societal biases that can impact career opportunities.


Individuals with disabilities may face barriers in education, employment, and accessibility, impacting their social mobility. Discrimination and lack of accommodations can limit their ability to participate fully in various aspects of society.


Gender identity can influence social mobility, with disparities in income, career advancement, and access to opportunities often existing between genders.


Age can intersect with social mobility, especially in terms of employment opportunities and career advancement. Older individuals may face ageism, impacting their ability to secure new jobs or advance in their careers.


Religious identity can intersect with social mobility. Discrimination or bias based on religion may affect opportunities for education, employment, and social integration.

Case Study & Analysis

In the following case study you will be presented with a hypothetical overview of an individual and their experience of social mobility. The aim of analysing this case study is to recognise how social mobility can affect individuals, whilst applying real life hypothetical scenarios.

As the oldest of three siblings, Ramya felt a strong sense of responsibility to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for her family by earning her place at college. Ramya's journey involved overcoming numerous obstacles through a combination of individual effort and external support. Recognising the importance of education, she pursued a degree in computer science, whilst supporting herself and her family by working at her local supermarket. After graduation, Ramya secured a position at a technology company, becoming one of the few women of colour in her department but has since struggled to move up in the organisation. In reference to the intersecting factors mentioned in this toolkit, try and identify which identity and background factors may have or had, an impact on Ramya's social mobility.

Case Study: Ramya Chaminda, Pronouns: She/Her Ramya is a 30-year-old woman with Sri Lankan heritage and was born into a low-income neighbourhood in South East London, characterised by limited opportunities. Her parents, immigrants from a historically underrepresented community, faced language barriers and struggled to secure stable employment.

Case Study Answers

Ramya navigated societal expectations and gender stereotypes that impacted her educational and career choices. As a woman aspiring to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, she encountered additional hurdles due to gender biases in these traditionally male-dominated industries, which may also be affecting her career trajectory currently.


Race and Ethnicity

Ramya belongs to a minority ethnic group that had long faced systemic discrimination. The community's limited access to resources, quality education, and opportunities for upward mobility significantly influenced Ramya’s early life. Having a cultural name, Ramya may have also experienced discrimination or prejudice from an early age.

Limited access to quality education in her neighbourhood, affected Ramya’s academic aspirations early on. Growing up in a household with limited financial resources, Ramya faced challenges accessing extracurricular activities, private tutoring and other educational enhancements. Financial instability may have also influenced her career aspirations, with practicality taking precedence over passion. Having to support herself financially, as well as her family whilst studying, meant she most likely did not have the same university experience as her peers and had to make sacrifices at a young age in order to receive the same education.

Socio-Economic Background

The intersection of Ramya's race, gender, and socioeconomic background created complex challenges. Ramya had to develop strategies to navigate and address these intersecting factors by herself.


1. Social Mobility: The movement of individuals, families, or groups within the social hierarchy, often measured in terms of income, education, occupation, or social status.2. Socio-Economic Background: The social and economic status of an individual or their family, including factors such as income, education, occupation, and wealth.3. Intersectionality: A framework that recognizes how an individual's intersecting identities (such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, and socio-economic background) can compound and intersect to shape their experiences of oppression and privilege.

4. Systemic Racism: Policies, practices, and structures that perpetuate racial inequalities and discrimination within society.5. Gender Pay Gap: The disparity in earnings between men and women, often resulting from factors such as occupational segregation, discrimination, and unequal access to opportunities.

Having a Vision

  • For inclusion to truly take root and to improve social mobility in the workplace, it needs to become a priority.
  • This can be achieved through senior and middle management, fostering a shift in mindsets and behaviors in the organisation. Encourage leaders and senior role models to participate in mentoring opportunities.
  • Encourage discussions about socio-economic diversity and inclusion, and make sure all employee voices are heard. Organise internal events and/or meetings to engage colleagues. E.g. Webinars or a social mobility resource group. Listen to colleagues and show your commitment to social mobility.
  • Leaders in businesses with the best outcomes listen to their employees. Learn from leading employers about their motivations for promoting social mobility within their organisations.
  • Align job roles or leaders with DEI to oversee the implementation of inclusion initiatives, with your inclusion goals.
  • Don't be discouraged if you're just beginning to explore this topic. Even the most inclusive businesses had to start somewhere

Increasing Talent

  • Diversify entry routes into your organisation by offering: traineeships, apprenticeships, internships and work experience programs. Ensure that all internships and other opportunities are openly advertised and compensated, to attract a wider range of applicants.
  • Prioritise skills and potential over qualifications, when evaluating candidates. Utilise competency-based interviews and practical assessments to foster a more inclusive selection process. Strive to differentiate between crucial soft skills, such as communication, and arbitrary factors like accent or cultural background.
  • Provide support to applicants throughout the recruitment process to address any challenges they may face, such as interview attire.
  • Promote economic opportunities and entrepreneurship to support small businesses from underrepresented communities. Foster partnerships with organisations that provide job training, career development, and financial literacy programs.
  • Ensure educational opportunities are accessible to individuals from all backgrounds. Provide mentorship programs and resources to support employees from marginalised communities.
  • Target recruitment efforts towards schools and further education colleges in areas with limited social mobility.

A Healthy Workplace Culture

  • Cultivate an environment that embraces diversity of thought. Foster an environment where challenging the status quo is encouraged, ensuring that different perspectives are valued and considered.
  • Ensure management talks and listens to all employees, feedback is encouraged, training is communicated and support systems are in place to enable progression.
  • Develop policies and practices that consider the intersecting identities and experiences of individuals. This can include flexible work arrangements, inclusive language, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
  • Implement training sessions on socio-economic diversity and inclusion for all staff members to foster a shared understanding and establish common practices. Ensure the training tackles behaviors and practices that can discriminate, are exclusionary or stigmatising.
  • Promote visibility and understanding of diverse backgrounds within the organisation by showcasing role models from various backgrounds who are passionate about social mobility. Promote diverse representation within leadership and decision-making roles.
  • Don’t assume that everyone is familiar with the cultural norms, dress codes, behaviours etc. in professional environments.

Supporting Career Progression

  • Ensure that managers at all levels provide regular training and engage in career development discussions with their employees. Encourage senior leaders to actively participate in mentoring opportunities.
  • Minimise reliance on informal promotion practices, such as sponsorships, high-profile roles, and informal networks, as these can inadvertently favor individuals from privileged backgrounds.
  • Clearly define the skill requirements for each promotion and incorporate flexibility into job specifications. Explicitly outline the experiences and attributes necessary for career advancement. Utilise available data to identify points where employees from less advantaged backgrounds may be falling behind.
  • Career advancement should be determined solely by an individual's skills, experience and demonstrated capabilities. Be vigilant in identifying and eliminating invisible barriers that may hinder the progress of certain individuals.

Find out more

Find out more


We hope that this toolkit has provided an overview of social mobility and intersectionality, highlighting the impact of intersecting factors.Understanding these concepts is essential to address inequities and promote inclusive practices in the workplace.By recognising and addressing the barriers faced by individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, we can work towards a more equitable and socially mobile society.

If you liked this toolkit and interested in further Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resources, then we suggest reserving your place on to The 'Diversity & Inclusion Change Maker Program'.


We hope that this toolkit has provided an overview of social mobility and intersectionality, highlighting the impact of intersecting factors.Understanding these concepts is essential to address inequities and promote inclusive practices in the workplace.By recognising and addressing the barriers faced by individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, we can work towards a more equitable and socially mobile society.

If you liked this toolkit and you are interested in further Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resources, then we suggest reserving your place on to The 'Diversity & Inclusion Change Maker Program'.

Find out more


We hope that this toolkit has provided an overview of social mobility and intersectionality, highlighting the impact of intersecting factors.Understanding these concepts is essential to address inequities and promote inclusive practices in the workplace.By recognising and addressing the barriers faced by individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, we can work towards a more equitable and socially mobile society.

If you liked this toolkit and interested in further Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resources, then we suggest reserving your place on to The 'Diversity & Inclusion Change Maker Program'.

Additional Information

Communicate Inclusively supports progressive organisations in embedding inclusive workplace cultures through; research & insights, strategy development, engaging communications, training programmes, workshops, events and digital campaigns.For more information or support on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) initiatives please feel free to contact us directly at hello@communicateinclusively.com or follow us on our social media pages:

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